Apple (AAPL 2.11%) reports fiscal first-quarter results later today. But just before the company reports results and officially enters a season of tough comparisons, let's take a look back at the company's extraordinary fiscal 2015. While it may not have been a good year for the stock, with shares declining 3.7% during the year, it was definitely a good year for the tech giant's underlying business.
Here are 8 facts that help capture the company's huge fiscal 2015.
Annual revenue increased by $51 billion. Yes, that's billion. During Apple's fourth-quarter earnings call, the company provided some colorful context to illustrate just how big this figure is: "[O]ur growth in one year was greater than the full year revenue of almost 90% of the companies in the Fortune 500."
Apple's total revenue for the year was $234 billion. That's more than three times Alphabet's and more than 14 times Facebook's.
Revenue growth in emerging markets increased 63%. Emerging markets played a key role in the company's growth in 2015 and represented a meaningful 34% of Apple's total revenue.
Apple has a war chest of $205.7 billion. The company is locked and loaded with cash for more repurchases, dividends, investments, and acquisitions.
Free cash flow for the year was nearly $70 billion. This annual free cash flow is how Apple gets away with an unprecedented share repurchase program, a growing dividend, and huge war chest of cash all at the same time.
iPhone sales jumped 37% between fiscal 2014 and 2015. In unit sales, that's an increase from 169 million in 2014 to 231 million in 2015.
Apple generated $53 billion in net income and grew earnings per share by 43%. Apparently being the world's most valuable company doesn't prevent Apple from growing at high rates.
Apple spent $36 billion repurchasing its own shares during the year. This brings Apple's total spent on repurchases since it initiated its repurchase program in 2012 to $104 billion.
If Apple did so well in 2015, why is the stock suppressed at a price-to-earnings multiple of 11? Ultimately, because investors are worried the company's revenue and EPS could be peaking. While there's some merit to these concerns, as Apple is even guiding for low single-digit percentage year-over-year growth in revenue during Q1, these concerns don't seem to appreciate the company's recent execution.
Apple's extraordinary growth in 2015 is obviously going to make comparisons in 2016 very tough. Following a year of 43% EPS growth simply isn't easy. But just because the company may be positioned to post small, or even flat, revenue growth during 2016 doesn't mean the stock deserves such a conservative valuation. The company's incredible growth in 2015 should be appreciated as evidence of Apple's clout with both existing and new customers. Further, investors should expect Apple's revenue on a year-to-year basis to be volatile -- this is a natural byproduct of the company's focused portfolio of products.
So, it's easy to see why Apple's sudden slowdown in growth could frighten the market. But it's also easy to see why this fretting is based on a shortsighted timeframe. At the end of the day, there's no clear indication that Apple is up against any long-term, pervasive problems -- and the company's huge 2015 demonstrates the strength of Apple's current business.
With one last look at Apple's fiscal 2015, it's now time to turn to the tech giant's fiscal 2016. Apple reports first-quarter results after market close today.